RIP Stan Lee

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Even though I’ve read comics since childhood and continue to consume a healthy amount each month I’ve never been a big reader of Marvel. But it’s impossible to escape the characters from the Marvel Universe as their reach, even in my childhood, snaked from comics out into TV, T-shirts, posters and any piece of memorabilia that could hold an image. Back before comic shops were even a thing the spinner racks in the local newsagent would be overflowing with random issues, frustratingly irregular, making it impossible to read a full run unless you put the work in and were extremely lucky. You knew the characters though, Spiderman and The Hulk had live action TV shows, Fantastic Four was an animated cartoon series (with incredible music, as sampled by MF Doom), Silver Surfer and Thor would appear on T-shirts, pencil cases, rubbers…

Back when Marvel UK published Star Wars Weekly they would fill out each issue with reprints from the lesser known canon of the Marvel Universe to bolster the page count each week. Hence I read Deathlock, The Micronauts (from a toy line I used to play with), Star Lord, ROM- Spacenight, Warlock and more without knowing their place in the scheme of things. But I had little interest in the ‘fights in tights’ kind of superhero stories, instead preferring the pages of British publications like 2000AD, Eagle, Warrior, Scream et al – comics where you could actually get hold of each subsequent issue without a gap in the story line.

So these lesser-known characters were really the Marvel of my youth but where the company came into their own for me was later, at the cinema. Until the first Iron Man, X-Men and Spiderman films only DC‘s Batman had had even a passable effort made at a superhero/comic book movie (OK, maybe the first Superman film too but that belongs to a bygone era). Finally here was the comic transposed to film done properly, with all the fan service embedded, and with a long-reaching plan that intended to do the ultimate crossover event in film, just like the comics. And they did it! 10 years of planning, building characters for new audiences, sometimes faithful to the comics, sometimes not, but what they achieved with Avengers: Infinity War this year was something I don’t think has ever been done in cinematic history. And we know that this is just phase 1, the celluloid universe they’ve created is even mightier than the paper one and it originated with one man – Stan Lee.

Now, I know it’s not as simple as that, not least with the Jack Kirby family struggles to get his contributions recognised, and there seem to be problems with Lee taking a lot of credit for work he maybe oversaw rather than created. But – as in many of these instances – I believe it’s usually the sum of the people involved rather than any one individual that makes these legendary creations happen and it’s indisputable that Stan was at the helm when a lot of what we now know as the Marvel Universe was created. He cleverly assured his place in the scheme of things by putting himself front and centre in many of the comics’ back pages (and sometimes even the covers) and this continued in the films. My kids have never read a Marvel comic but they know the characters from the films and they certainly know who Stan Lee is too from his sometimes blink-and-you’ll-miss-t cameos in each Marvel movie. After years of them being scorned, Marvel have made comic creations acceptable in Hollywood and bought a whole new generation into comic shops as a result.

He leaves behind a huge legacy, a whole universe of characters, many of who ascended into pop culture before the films and many more who no doubt will in due time. RIP Stan ‘The Man’ Lee.

(Image by Butcher Billy)

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Sculpture – Nearest Neighbour

Nearest Neighbour by Sculpture Press Release-1Not only does the next release from Sculpture contain Dan Hayhurst‘s trademark scattershot tape manipulations and noise bursts – housed inside a red cassette this time round – it also comes with a graphic novel, illustrated as usual, by Reuben Sutherland as only he knows how. It’s not all microscopic sound exploration though, standout track, ‘Nite Flite’ comes on like a classic late 80’s house meets early 90’s B12 exploration, complete with 4/4 kick and sci-fi synth pads. Preview a track here

Nearest Neighbour: Graphic Novel/C70 Compact Cassette by Sculpture from Sculpture on Vimeo.

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Reuben this time pushes the boundaries of what an abstract comic can be whilst still readable as a sequence of events. Imagine one of his undulating zoetrope/phenakistoscope animations spread out across the pages, subtle changes in repetition and zooms pushing the visual narrative forward with each panel. The mind boggles as to how he lays this stuff all out without the joins showing. The 23 track album is released on 11th August on their Tapebox label as a cassette/download/book. Pre-order it here https://plasticinfinite.bandcamp.com/album/nearest-neighbour

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The Delaware Road comic pt.1 – Black Propaganda

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The mystery that is The Delaware Road deepens with the first episode of a projected six part comic from the Buried Treasure label. Taking the story back to the Second World War we meet new characters as it sets the stage for a new chapter in this tale of the occult, orgies and oscillators. Less than 10 copies are left so be quick as there won’t be any reprints in this form. The comic is A5 size, 20 pages, colour cover, B&W interior, and comes in a protective bag with backing board. DelRdinsideDelRd inside2

Pulp Magazine archive

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Stuff that’s been clogging up the desktop Pt.4

Toby Whitebread (New Analog Illustration) sent me a link to a pulp magazine archive a few weeks back and I waded through it to find these beauties.

We start with a trio of lesser-seen Vaughn Bodé covers

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I’m not sure who these next two are by, the first could be Josh Kirby
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Three lovely Mike Hinge covers…Amazing_Stories_v46n01_1972-05_0000 Amazing_Stories_v46n05_1973-01_Gorgon776_0001 Amazing_Stories_v48n04_1974-12_Gorgon776_0001

Brian Lewis doing his Richard Powers / Yves Tanguy impressionNew_Worlds_069v23_1958-03_0001Science_Fantasy_28v10_1958-04_0000 Science_Fantasy_40v14_1960-04_0000

and finally, a couple of Richard Powers properStar_Science_Fiction_v01n01_1958-01_Sam_Hall-sleipnir_edit_0000Beyond_Fantasy_Fiction_v01n01_1953-07_cape1736_0000

William Stout bootleg covers

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A second reading of Clinton Heylin‘s excellent ‘Bootleg: The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry book led me to these covers and I remember seeing a few at record fairs over the years so decided to investigate and post a collection of the best here. As I dug even further into their history it became apparent that one artist was responsible for almost all of them – William Stout – and mostly for one label too.

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I was aware of his work from several different underground comix in my collection but didn’t realise how versatile he was as an artist, able to switch styles to suit different subject matter, hence why I thought the covers were works by different artists. For instance, who would associate the Rolling Stones style above with the Spicy Beatles one below? But they’re from the same hand. One of Stout’s visual calling cards on the bootlegs was to turn some of the artists he was illustrating into pigs, to tie them to the pig logo of the label (which he later redesigned as a smoking, bespectacled pig which became the logo for a breakaway label).

Beatles SpicySongs bob-dylanmelbourne-australia-1966-jethroTull JeffBeckFast LedZepCalifornia LennonOnoVirginThreeBack McCartneyWingsGreatDane R_SAllMeatMusic R-S-BrightLights R-S-CopsnRobbers

Originally working almost exclusively for the Trademark of Quality company originated by ‘Dub’ and ‘Ken’ out of LA in the early 70s, he gained a wide audience through his sleeve art and went on to illustrate many more, sometimes for legitimate releases by the very artists his images were covering the first time round. Later he moved into film posters and concept art and still works today.

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His website has a fascinating three-part interview about these times, extensively illustrated and peppered with personal photos of many great musicians from back in the day, taken backstage at numerous gigs. His comments about the reality of pre-stadium rock gigs back then are especially illuminating.

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And on my trawl I found a few, later examples that aren’t by William but are worthy of inclusion …

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Some Food excursions coming up

I should do a little round up of a few things I’ve had a hand in that have recently come to light:

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The rarely seen 360 degree dome show version of my 2012 album ‘The Search Engine‘ is playing in Bristol at We The Curious, the Bristol Planetarium on January 30th and Feb 27th – tickets here. I won’t actually be at the shows, it’s a straight playback of the AV set I created in 2012. I was present at those but it’s always been a pre-rendered thing.

I did an interview for online magazine Fat Hipster – available in both English and Serbian.

Alex Fitch‘s Panel Borders podcast includes some of the talk about music and comics I was part of at the Caption festival in Brighton last December.

I’ll be supporting The Art of Noise (legends!) at The British Library in March! Tickets here

Eat Or Heat flyer

I’m on the bill again at the Eat Or Heat fundraiser at the Wild Card Brewery on Feb 17th – great cause, donation on entry. Talking of fundraisers – the Resonance FM fundraiser is on now – a radio station very dear to my heart for many reasons – support independent leftfield radio here.

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And talking of radio – I’ll be on Out Of The Wood radio this Sunday (Jan 21st) – attempting something different. Taking place live at the Book & Record Bar, West Norwood between 12-2pm – tune in to WNBC.london here.

2017: WTF was going on?

DJ Food Bill brief

The above photo was my brief from Bill Drummond for the set I was to play at the JAM‘s Welcome To The Dark Ages event in Liverpool. I stuck it above my mixer as I was preparing the set, it’s something to keep in mind as we go forward into 2018. I spent most of the year in limbo, waiting in a chain for a property to come through. When it finally did in mid September, I pretty much ate, drank and slept it in between jobs as it needed a lot of work doing, hence no posts for the past two odd months. I’m in now and can see the wood for the trees but it did mean I largely dipped out of social media for the latter quarter of the year (probably not a bad thing).

Seeing as 2016 was such a shitter, in 2017 I wrote down all the good things that happened as the year progressed:

Events 2017

Got implicated in the KLF/JAMMs/K2 comeback media scrum because of an innocent quote in my 2016 round up
Started Further with Pete Williams – a multimedia music & projection night playing non-dancefloor sounds with analogue-based visuals plus food and a record stall – and founded a studio/ HQ in S. London
Pete Isaac (45 Live) found me a perfect copy of a long time wants list staple, Bam Bam’s ‘Where’s Your Child’ on 7″ for free
Got asked to play as Further at The Orb‘s ambient evening at the Royal Festival Hall in April and lit up the 5th floor balcony with 20 projectors
Mixed a Death Waltz Originals CD which was given away free at Halloween with Mondo/DW orders
Appeared on the Big Mouth podcast and played at the opening of Orbital Comics‘ exhibition, both celebrating 40 years of 2000AD
Found a set of Thomas ‘Eclipse’ plates, cups and saucers for a bargain price from an eBay seller
Pete managed to find a broken 6k projector for free and fixed it for £50
My kids got into the secondary school we wanted them to go to and aced it in their first term
The first Further event at the Portico Gallery was sold out and a great success with Ghost Box and Howlround as guests
Played the first Big Fish Little Fish in Athens which promptly sold out
Played three different street food festivals in the summer, love those sort of gigs, more please
Found a huge Barbara Brown dinner service in the charity for £15 – find of the year
Played at The Delaware Road performance in July inside a nuclear bunker with a host of electronic artists – a very special night

Further 2017

Asked to play the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu happening in Liverpool, which turned out to be one of the events of the year – who’d have thought it? A career highlight that saw me playing many of the tracks they’d sampled in their career alongside acid house classics and ending at 3am with a version of ‘In The Ghetto’.
Further went to Spiritland and we supported The Heliocentrics as part of the SYNthesis festival, both very special occasions even though we worked our balls off to set them up
The return of The The in musical, film and live capacity
Scoring a long time wants list LP – Yves Hayat‘s ‘Conversations Between The East & The West’ – direct from the archive of the composer himself and meeting him in London to receive the record.
Blade Runner 2049 was actually amazing and a worthy follow up to the original
The second major Further gig at the Portico Gallery featured Simon James playing a Buchla set to bespoke visuals we made and Sculpture slaying the place with their AV act.
Asked to support the Art of Noise at the British Library next March
Further featured twice in Electronic Sound magazine and I had an opening spread printed of my end of night image of the funeral pyre from the JAMs event in Liverpool
Taking my boys to the Colourscape on Clapham Common
Finally moved in and moved on
Asked to play a very special run of shows in 2018 that I’ll reveal soon…

Music 2017

Music:
OK, so 2017 was the year of the Lizard for me, I listened to more hours of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s music than any other band, but considering they released 5 albums this year alone it ‘s not surprising. Each album was different and they steadily got better with each release as the year progressed (disclaimer: I can’t speak for album no. 5 ‘Gumboot Soup’ as it came out today but ‘Polygondwanaland is probably my album of the year)
Brian Eno – Reflection (Warp)
Cavern of Anti-Matter – Blood Drums (reissue) (Duophonic)
Clocolan – Nothing Left To Abandon (Enpeg)
Run The Jewels – RTJ3 (Mass Appeal)
Revbjelde – Revbjelde (Buried Treasure)
Thundercat – Them Changes (Brainfeeder)
Jamiroquai – Automaton (the single)
The Dandelion Set – A Thousand Strands (Buried Treasure) (technically 2016 but copies got held up by distribution and it was more widely available in 2017)
The Heliocentrics – A World Of Masks (Soundway)
The Heliocentrics – The Sunshine Makers (Soundway)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana (and still playing the hell out of Nonagon Infinity and It’s In My Mind Fuzz)
Klaus Weiss – Time Signals (reissue) (Trunk)
Vanishing Twin – Dream By Numbers EP (Soundway)
The Allergies – Entitled To That (Jalapeno)
Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology (Fire Records)
Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk – Passage (Azure Vista Records)
Ilia Gorovitz – Turmoil/Simmering With No End (Rassh Records)
John Brooks – Un Autre Directions (Clay Pipe Music)
King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard – Murder of the Universe (Flightless)
Markey Funk – Witch Doctor / The Brew (Delights)
Nevermen – Mr Minute (Boards of Canada remix) (Lex)
The The – Radio Cineola Trilogy (Lazarus)
Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch – Blade Runner 2049 OST
King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard – Sketches of Brunswick East (Flightless)
King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard – Polygondwanaland (Flightless)

Exhibitions 2017

Exhibitions:
Future Shock – 40 Years of 2000AD – Cartoon Museum (London) / Paolozzi at the Whitechapel Gallery (London), Will Barras at Sector 25 (London) / Barbara Brown and Lucienne Day at the Whitworth Gallery (Manchester) / Franco Grignani at Estorick Collection of Italian Art (London), We Are Watching: Oz Magazine – Chelsea Art Space (London) / Delta – Mima Museums (Brussels) / Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains at the V&A (London), British Underground Press of the 60s at the A22 Gallery (London) / Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? – Wellcome Collection (London) / Snub 23 at the Boz Boz Gallery (Brighton)

Books / Comics:
Out Of Time – Miranda Sawyer / Ian Helliwell – Tape Leaders (Sound On Sound) Book + CD / British Underground Press of the 60s (Rocket 88) / The Process Is The Inspiration – House Industries / B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth (Dark Horse) / Barbarella (Dynamite) / Swifty – FunkyTypo Graphix (Gamma Proforma) / Boris Tellegen – 86/97 – a black book (A Paper Book) / Batman: White Knight (DC)

RIP: Jaki Liebezeit, David Axelrod, Alan Aldridge, Dick Bruna, Clyde Stubblefield, Larry Coryell, Toshio Nakanishi, Chuck Berry, Skip Williamson, Jay Lynch, Mika Vainio, Adam West, Brian Cant, Pierre Henry, Anne-Marie Bergeron, Glen Campbell, Bruce Forsyth, Holger Czukay, Virgil Howe, Sean Hughes, Christine Keeler, Keith Chegwin, Dennis Dragon, Jim Baikie

British Underground Press of the Sixties at the A22 Gallery

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Just opened at the A22 Gallery in Clerkenwell is an exhibition supporting the British Underground Press of the Sixties book by Barry Miles and James Birch that collects the covers to all (big claim I know) the major magazines of the late 60s and 70s together. The exhibition features much more than just the magazines though with archive posters, badges, promo material and memorabilia collected together in a mass of psychedelic colour and badly registered print.

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Oz, International Times, Frendz, Gandalf’s Garden, Black Dwarf, Ink, cOzmic Comics and more all feature and it’s a wonder to behold. Some of the covers verge on pornographic and serve to remind of more anarchic and sometimes unsavoury times. The book is spectacular, highly recommended at £35 from Rocket 88 and is also available at the gallery with a deluxe edition containing vintage copies of original undergrounds for a silly money price too.

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Further goes to Spiritland

With great pride and a lot of effort Pete Williams and I played one of our Further sets last Sunday evening at Spiritland, complete with multiple projections. Thanks to everyone who came by despite the bad weather. We had a great time and are in talks to bring it back there. You can hear our 4 hour set below and sample some of the projections we discreetly added to the sumptuous surroundings.

The next Further excursion is in 9 days at the SYNthesis festival in South Norwood, we’ll be playing either side of The Heliocentrics at Stanley Halls preceded by an afternoon of street art painting, food stalls and a talk by designer, Swifty at 6pm.
Tickets here

(Video nicked from Spiritland’s Instagram, photos © Martin LeSanto-Smith)

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30 year anniversary Atom Tan reprint

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Atom Tan ran for two issues and launched the careers of Jamie Hewlett, Philip Bond and Alan Martin, later to be the breakout stars of Deadline magazine with, of course, Tank Girl, leading the charge. They created Atom Tan themselves and copies are rare as hen’s teeth and expensive if they ever appear. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of it’s publication they’ve reprinted it, added extra ephemera, a poster and a couple of badges, all for a tenner but only 500 copies exist so be quick. Get it here
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Alex Ross does The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine

ys_alexross I ran across these the other night, comic artist Alex Ross does realistic versions of the characters from the Yellow Submarine cartoon film. His take on the Love Glove, Blue Meanies and Jeremy the Nowhere Man are quite unsettling but beautiful. The single Beatle images are offered as sets of prints direct from Alex’s site but they’re not cheap! The long image at the top was offered last year by Dark Hall Mansion, see more details here.

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RIP Leo Baxendale

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I was never a Beano or Dandy reader, but this book, Willy the Kid Book 2, as well as Sweeney Toddler when I was a kid, was poured over by me and my brother, we knew every little detail. It took me years to find a copy of Book 1 (and I only just found out there was a Book 3!) and his book, Thrrp! for Knockabout probably wins the stupidest comic ever award.
RIP Leo Baxendale

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Bigmouth podcast guest appearance

I was very pleased to be asked to guest on one of my favourite podcasts: Bigmouth, talking about 2000AD’s 40th anniversary, the new Magnetic Fields album and the first part of new BBC drama SS-GB alongside guest Matt Allen and regular hosts Andrew Harrison and Matt Hall. Also hear which track of the week I chose and what closing time chatter gem I dredged up.
UPDATE: Annoyingly I go the date of the Orbital Comics closing party gig wrong at the end, it’s March 10th, not 9th.

Beyond 2000AD exhibition glimpse

Beyond2000_poster Beyond2000_progs Beyond2000_records1 Beyond2000_records2 Beyond2000_TimeOutI finally got time to pop into Orbital Comics and see their small but packed exhibition of 2000AD offshoots, tie-ins, cash-ins, memorabilia, music, magazines, toys and so much more. Not having an opening party because it would clash with the comic’s own 40th celebration a couple of weekends ago they’ve decided to have a closing party on Friday March 10th where there will be a podcast recording and music by yours truly among others.
I also just guested on the Big Mouth podcast pre-record, talking about the comic’s legacy which will be available online this coming Sunday. More details as I have it.

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Future Shock 2000AD art at the Cartoon Museum photos

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I finally got a chance to see the Future Shock exhibition of 2000AD classic original art the other day at the Cartoon Museum, tucked away in the back streets near the British Museum. It costs £7 and once you’ve navigated past some of the most miserable/bored looking staff you’ll ever see you can peruse the galleries of comic and political art.

As far as pieces by key artists of essential stories and characters go, this is one of the best collections of art you’ll see aside from Rufus Dayglo‘s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it exhibition this coming weekend at Geek 2017 in Margate. The bulk of it comes from long-time collector Wakefield Carter who runs the Barney database and regularly trades or sells original art. All the major names are here, with examples from some of the classic stories too (Dredd Cursed Earth and Dark Judges to name but two) and there’s a lot of it. Shown here are just a few of my personal highlights.

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Upstairs, the regular exhibition is full of classic images, characters and artists too inc. Dave GibbonsLichtenstein-baiting ‘Whaat?’, Watchmen, Batman, Dan Dare and V For Vendetta art and original Leo Baxendale pages.

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2000AD 40th exhibitions

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The ‘mighty organ’ that is 2000AD is 40 years old this month and today is the big celebration at the Novotel in Hammersmith. I won’t be attending but photos already posted on social media are making me wish I was.

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Also opening today is the Beyond 2000AD exhibition at Orbital Comics (see flyer above) that I’ve contributed some pieces to. This looks at the wider impact of the comic outside of the printed page including merchandise, toys, t-shirts, bags, record sleeves and more.

Cartoon Museum
Just up the road the Cartoon Museum is showing a huge selection of original art from the comic under the banner Future Shock: 40 years of 2000AD, so if you haven’t got a ticket to the 40th bash you can still soak up 40 years worth of thrills.

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Future Shock 40 years of 2000ad poster

2000AD40thCartoon Museum
Two different 2000AD original art exhibitions mark the comic’s 40th anniversary this coming Feb. The first opens at the Cartoon Museum  in 13 days for 3 months. The second is on for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 3 days mid Feb at Geek 2017 at Dreamland in Margate and, I believe, is mainly culled from Rufus Dayglo‘s incredible collection – certainly one of the best I’ve ever seen.2000AD40thMargate